Marlborough Sounds outdoor activities

From the Queen Charlotte Track to camping on one of New Zealand's most beautiful beaches, Marlborough Sounds adventures are epic.

Māori oral history tells us the Marlborough Sounds region is the smashed-up prow of a great waka that was overturned in a fierce storm. Geology says the sounds were formed when massive tectonic forces tipped the end of the South Island into the ocean around 280 million years ago. And we say the Marlborough Sounds is one of New Zealand's must-do places. If you haven't yet explored the nooks and crannies of this epic region, it's time to make it happen.

Conquer the Queen Charlotte Track

The spectacular Queen Charlotte Track winds through 72 kilometres of native forest, along ridges and beside idyllic coves. It's an expedition that offers lots of choices: conquer the whole thing or just a section; travel on foot, bike or in a kayak (or a mixture of all three); guide yourself or join a guided trip; stay in basic accommodation or luxury lodges. Whatever you decide, you can count on an amazing adventure.

Walking the Queen Charlotte Track

Hiking the entire length of Queen Charlotte Track takes four to five days. If you're on a guided trip, accommodation will be arranged for you along the way. If you're walking independently, there's a range of places to stay - but you definitely need to book them in advance.

Kayaking the Queen Charlotte Track

As with hiking, kayaking the Queen Charlotte Track can be an independent or guided adventure. It's faster than walking, so you can cover more kilometres every day. The views are different from the water, so you might want to combine kayaking with some hiking to get a total Queen Charlotte experience.

Biking the Queen Charlotte Track

If you plan to bike the Queen Charlotte Track, it's a smart idea to have your luggage transferred between overnight destinations. Biking this track with a full pack would be quite a mission! It takes two to three days to bike the entire track and most riders start by catching a boat from Picton to Meretoto.

Looking out at Eatwell's Lookout

A highlight of hiking or biking Queen Charlotte Track is Eatwell's Lookout, an elevated point where you can enjoy the majesty of the Marlborough Sounds. If you have limited time, a there-and-back expedition to the lookout makes a great day trip.

Fishing in the Marlborough Sounds

Dangle a line in the clean, sheltered waters of the Marlborough Sounds to catch yourself a snapper or blue cod for dinner. Weather permitting, half-day fishing trips leave from Picton every day. As well as that wonderful tug-tug-tug on your line, you can look forward to amazing forest and ocean scenery. If you're a serious fisherperson, D'Urville Island is the place for big snapper and kingfish.

Visit Lochmara Lodge

Located in beautiful Lochmara Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound, Lochmara Lodge is accessible by water taxi from the port town of Picton. It's a place where hospitality, adventure and wildlife recovery have combined to create a one-of-a-kind holiday opportunity. The lodge has an underwater observatory and a full programme of nature-based excursions and activities. You can visit the lodge on a day trip or stay in a chalet.

Camp at Whites Bay Beach

At the north end of Cloudy Bay is one of New Zealand's most beautiful beaches; a sweeping curve of surf and sand with a forest backdrop and an excellent DOC (Department of Conservation) camping ground. Spend the day walking the track network and swimming, then get cosy in your tent or campervan for a night of morepork serenades. There are also numerous DOC camping grounds in the Marlborough Sounds, including Momorangi Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound and Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve.

Have a day out on the Marlborough Sounds

If you arrive in the Marlborough region by sea or air, the intricate detail of the Marlborough Sounds engages your interest immediately. Bordered by forest that rises almost vertically from the water's edge, the sounds provide 1,500 kilometres of sheltered beaches and waterways for outdoor adventure. In Picton, at the top of Queen Charlotte Sound, it's easy to arrange boating, fishing, sailing and other Marlborough Sounds activities. If you're into diving, there are two great wreck dives in the area - the Russian cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov and the wreck of the Hippalos, a 120-year old wooden barque.

Eatwell's Lookout image courtesy of MarlboroughNZ; Queen Charlotte Track image courtesy of Destination Marlborough; Aerial view of friends kayaking image courtesy of @barekiwi; Whites Bay Beach image courtesy of Destination Marlborough